To kick start this feature is a participant at the Miss Africa USA Pageant, a cultural showcase of the African heritage in the USA. It is a charity event that provides a platform for young African women in the US to showcase talent, leadership, culture and a unique opportunity to speak up for Africa and raise awareness on pertinent issues concerning the continent.
Well, this young lady is not only beautiful but intelligent and very passionate and she wants to win the Miss Africa USA pageant so as to promote her love of giving disdvantaged children a better life.
A multi-tasker who is capable of acquiring a degree in accounting as well as model and act with top Nollywood stars, Dulce Camer has no reservation that this young woman will make a fine Miss Africa USA.
Read her story below and get voting!!
Happy Reading y'all!
DC: Hello Shaznay, do I call you Okawa or Shaznay?
OS: Which ever you prefer is fine!
DC: Ok, actually where did the name Okawa come from? It sounds kinda Japanese!
OS: Yes it does sound Japanese. It was just a name my great grandmother had and I was named after her.
DC: Right. Well hello Shaznay, thanks for talking to Dulce Camer. Let us start by finding out a bit about you. Who is the person behind Okawa Shaznay?
OS: Okawa Shaznay is a normal young lady from Cameroon who grew up there for about 18 years before moving to the US to do my college degree. From time to time I do modelling and acting.
DC: You gained a degree in accounting, that couldn’t be very different from your love of the Arts. Tell us why you chose accounting?
OS: Um, because it is my second love. My mother was a banker and growing up I used to go to my mother’s office a lot and maybe that is why I got into this field of business.
DC: Do you actually work as an accountant?
OS: No. Not yet. Right now I am preparing for my Gmac which is an entry exam to enable me to do a Masters.
DC: Ok, so let us now go to your passion – Acting and modelling. How did you get into this?
OS: Um, I started acting in Cameroon. I did many stage plays in school and in 2004 the Cameroon movie industry was emerging and there was an announcement on the radio about a film project so I auditioned for a part in the movie which was called “Master DJ” and got it! In 2005 when I travelled to the US I went to a modelling school in Houston, Texas and got in contact with various fashion photographers in my local area. I have had the opportunity to work with some very popular Nollywood actors.
DC: Apart from the love of these, what else made you decide to get into this industry?
OS: Um, for some reason growing up watching TV and loving movies, I thought to myself why couldn’t I be part of the movie making process and that was what kicked started the process!
DC: Why do you think many African parents do not push their children into the entertainment industry?
OS: Because of the mentality of the entertainment industry being bad...it is true that managers and produces could approach you but it is up to you to protect yourself and not get into any bad situation and you don’t have to do anything to get a role. If a role is meant for you, it will come to you and if you have no talent it will show.
DC: You started your acting in Cameroon, what do you think of our film industry?
OS: Um right now, it is still growing. The Cameroon film industry is much more theatre and stage plays. However we are now slowly trying to get into movies. It is definitely growing.
DC: Nigeria has Nollywood, Ghana, Gollywood, Cameroon, Collywood. What is your opinion on Cameroon following the trend of naming their film industry this way?
OS: Honestly, it is a good thing that these other film industries are naming themselves after Hollywood but to me it is not creative enough. I don’t admire them for going down this route but I guess they are just following the trend.
DC: There was actually a debate going on where they had the choice of naming the industry either the Cameroon Film Industry (CFI) or Collywood. Well you know what they chose! If it was up to you, what would you name it and why?
OS: I would really need to think about this but I know I would not have called it Collywood!
DC: I actually saw pictures of you chilling with African film royalties namely Van Vicker, Jim Iyke and Desmond Elliott…are you shooting a film with them?
OS: Yes I was....right now I am currently shooting a film with Van Vicker which will wrap on Saturday and it has all been amazing.
DC: Where you ever star struck?
OS: No, never (she laughs). I am not star struck at all especially if I am doing a scene with them.
DC: Girl to girl, how fine is Van Vicker in the flesh?!
OS: The same, he is good looking (she laughs)
DC: Right, so you are a contestant in the Miss Africa USA founded by Lady Kate Njeuma, why did you decide to take part in this competition?
OS: Um because the pageant is a scholarship pageant and an opportunity to showcase an issue which is dear to your heart. It is not your average pageant.
DC: How was the audition?
OS: It was awesome! I met Cameroonians from different states and other people from different African backgrounds. It was all great.
DC: Tell the readers why they should vote for you?
OS: I want them to vote for me because I am truly passionate about the cause I am doing right now. My cause is supporting and creating awareness for disadvantaged children in Cameroon. Disadvantaged in the sense that they are orphans...I support 2 causes namely Shaping Destiny Organisation based in Bamenda and founded by Dr Kenneth Acha. The other is Keep a Child Alive based in New York but they have clinics in Kenya and Uganda. This charity provides antiviral drugs to kids living with HIV. It is important we all look out for each other and I always want to be a positive role model for others to follow.
DC: How can they vote?
OS: All you need to do is to go to www.missafricaunitedstates.com/countries.htm and then once you get to the page, scroll down to the left hand side of the page and you will see the first poll of names and mine is there. That’s it!
DC: So after this competition, what is your next project?
OS: Should I win this pageant, I will go on promoting my causes as well as embark on my masters and continue on my film projects.
DC: Thanks for talking to DC Ms Okawa and good luck with the finals next year.
OS: Thanks very much for the support.
Flying the Camer flag!
With Nollywood actor, Desmond Elliott
With Nollywood bad boy Jim Iyke
With the fine Van Vicker!
Give this sister a chance to promote and work towards something very dear to her heart. By voting for her you will also be supporting her 2 charities.
Give these children a better future by voting for Okawa Shaznay.
Thanks for reading.
DC: Dulce Camer
OS: Okawa Shaznay
OS: Okawa Shaznay